Guest post by Jon Darch from the Safe Standing Roadshow
The views expressed in this blog are those of the blogger and are not necessarily shared by ClaretandHugh
As the operator of the Safe Standing Roadshow, I have been delighted over recent years by the numerous declarations of support for safe standing made by David Gold.
However, I’ve been less delighted by the failure of West Ham as a club to do likewise. Now is the time to put that right. Now is the time for West Ham formally to declare its support for safe standing.
David Gold, David Sullivan and Karren Brady were all hoping, I’m sure, that the club’s move to the Olympic Stadium would be hailed a resounding success.
While I have seen plenty of positive feedback from fans about their experiences there, some of the highest profile feedback has, been negative and that has been down to the lack of provision made at the new ground for fans who prefer to stand.
While at the Boleyn Ground everyone knew where standing was tolerated and where to go if you wanted to sit for the full 90 minutes, at the new stadium no such traditions have yet evolved and no tacit hints as to where standing might be tolerated were given by the club prior to the move.
As a result, standing fans are mixed in with those who like to sit and nobody is happy: some having their view blocked, others upset by being asked to sit down.
This isn’t how it was supposed to be!
Many fans might think: well, why didn’t the club plan ahead and create safe standing areas from the outset? Unfortunately, the rules and regs don’t make it quite as simple as that, as the two Davids mentioned last week:
They said: “We understand the traditions of football and that many supporters like to stand, but the reality is that the license is for all-seating.” And as things currently stand (excuse the pun), the club had no way of obtaining any other sort of licence. For now, the ground has to be all-seater.
So, how could the current unhappy situation be resolved to everyone’s satisfaction?
In my view, there are two main things that could be done, both to achieve a short-term solution and to work towards a long-term goal:
The club should announce its intention to operate a seat relocation scheme as soon as the logistics of doing so can be worked out.
On the basis that everyone essentially bought their season ticket without knowing who would be seated around them, it would be an example of good ‘customer care’ to now offer fans who have found themselves in a part of the ground where they’d rather not be an opportunity to relocate to an area where they’d feel more at home.
Although many of us hate the term, the creation of a ‘singing section’ should also be considered. The club could make it known that it expects supporters in that section to be particularly vibrant, perhaps to wave flags and even to stand regularly during moments of excitement (as is permitted by the terms of the stadium licence).
It could also, as Cardiff City did when they moved from Ninian Park to their new ground, make it clear that in all other areas of the stadium the club would take a zero tolerance approach to persistent standing.
The club should declare its formal support for the introduction of safe standing in England & Wales, like that introduced this summer at Celtic.
This is the ideal way for the club to show to its loyal fans, many of whom, as David Gold and David Sullivan acknowledge, prefer to stand, that it takes their wishes seriously and is doing all in its power to persuade the authorities to amend the relevant regulations as soon as possible and to allow clubs like West Ham to provide standing fans with purpose-built safe standing areas.
Anything less might be mistaken by fans as a sign that their wishes are being ignored and that the club has no desire to have standing fans at the new stadium under any circumstances. I am sure that they will want to dispel any such impression.
Only a formal declaration of club support for the future introduction of safe standing areas will make it clear where West Ham truly stands. In the meantime, it might also encourage fans who prefer to stand to be more understanding of the club’s current position.
Was a bit of a disaster if I’m honest. I was sat in the East lower where it joins the Bobby Moore. I arrived after kick off as I wanted to upgrade my junior ticket to an adult and the ticket office lady had no clue how to do it. Joined another queue and that lady did it straight away by issuing a paper ticket after I paid for the upgrade. Serious training required me thinks. Then upon upgrading my ticket like hundreds of others my season ticket didn’t work at the gate. Back to the ticket office to get a replacement and by now bubbles is in full swing, start missed!! Back into the stadium 15 mins into the game, with no bag search(didn’t inspire confidence) only to find some horrible **** has nicked our season ticket seats because he can’t see further up because of persistent standers. Got hugely aggressive and refused to budge. Stewards were doing nothing!! Now I paid something like 1300 quid for my seats an no one should be allowed to just take them for the game. Thankfully out of the goodness of his heart a couple of guys gave up their seats for my wife and I and they watched standing up in the disabled section as they wanted to stand anyway. Now I prefer to stand when possible as I believe that it generates much more atmosphere than sitting down ALWAYS! However I don’t stand all match if those behind me aren’t standing. I witnessed a number of fights and near fights between fans over this issue with some pretty nasty stuff being said. This should not happen between fellow fans. In fairness to the guys refusing to sit when asked by the stewards, all you had to do was look over to the Bobby Moore and the Trevor Brooking who were pretty much all standing and no one was asking them to sit and everyone was getting on just fine. The only answer to this and I can’t see it happening this season as tickets have already been issued, is to make it be known for renewing season ticket holders, that the Bobby Moore and the Trevor Brooking stands will be standing. We can’t just do away with standing, as so far in my experience the majority of the atmosphere in the three games that I have been to, HAS been generated by those very stands. What we do until next season is another question entirely. All I know is next game I’m wearing a crash helmet. I’ll give the West Ham hierarchy the benefit of the debt for now. But in essence they are the only people who can sort this out, so………SORT IT OUT
Right, this is serious…. if we’re all made to sit then there’s no atmosphere…. if some of us stand then we become stuck at 57,000 when we could actually achieve 66,000 by next year. I believe all West Ham blogs should get together and start a campaign on the safe standing / rail seat solution. It’s the way forward – and you can get more people in the stadium as rail seats / standing takes up less room – everyone’s a winner.
Needs to happen and will be in owners’ interests to sort this out quickly before it becomes an us v them situation
at Upton Park you had a family seating area in the Trevor Brooking upper which was great for the kids.
If you put you’re kids on you’re shoulders it would ike the the bloke standing behind ?
Everybody should be issued with a kid and respect the point ?? Just an idea !
This is probably a stupid question but can we as a club even install rail seating.I mean it aint ours to mess about with the seating.What happens when the athletics are there next year,will they mind it being rail seating in place in sections or does the stadium have to maintain the seats already in place.Ok if it’s a dumb question sorry 🙂
Doh! Rads , haha I think it all stays the same rads with a rail for safety ?
I’ve got a rail in front of me and its great to lean on and do gymnastics !
Its the dismount that’s the problem ? I end up 6 rows down ? Hahaha
No mate I think all existing seats would have to be removed.Thats why I said can we as a club do that in a stadium that aint ours.Watch the Celtic video,all the original seating was ripped out.I don’t know Johnboy,i ain’t got a clue about what the club can do or can’t do im just a rabid dog lol 🙂
You are probably right rads but to rip the seating out and install new would cost a fortune !!
There’s space behind the seating to alter and install a bar with no infringement at all IMO ? Wheat her you can do that instead of ripping out the existing is in the lap of the gods . But you will need permission from the powers that be , , personally I’m happy I’m already ready , got me own crash bar which I’m happy about , the bloke 6 rows down ain’t though ?
Well that’s what I’m on about mate,the expense,who pays for it & would we be able to do it anyway.Its a good idea in principal but not if we ain’t allowed to do it by the big cajones & powers that be.F*ck knows,im sure one of our new anoraks will have the answer 🙂
Great artical, ? Not impressed with the brown nose job of having nothing to do with the views of the speaker ! But put it out anyway !!
It needs sorting , you will not win this one west ham board , show willing to get involved and not just agree in principle and do nothing ??
Someone will get hurt soon but for the wrong reasons , not H&S !!! Get the ball rolling a.s.a.p.
Not a happy family at present , it was never going to be a follow the rules or else adventure , I think that was quite nieve of the board !! They simply lost their roots the Dave’s , Brady has none of the east end ?
Why dig the board out? West Ham don’t own the stadium. Its the stadium owners who want to make it all seated.
We had this before at Upton Park about 15 years ago and the capacity was reduced for a few games, people were chucked out and banned and then it all blew over.
The Bournemouth fans were standing for a lot of the game – didn’t see them being told to sit down.
I dont remember that 15 years ago.Thats scared me now,my memory must be going.
Complete wast of labout to tell away fans to sit down; they won’t take any notice, and will not be back for another year…
On sunday i had two lads who clearly wanted to be in B/M lower, jumped up at every song. Fair play to the lads that like to stand. They are the ones that start all the singing and ,in the main, create the atmosphere. However i’d like to know why these fit energetic young chaps were in the disabled seating. most in this area are incapeable of leaping to their feet, so had to constantly miss crucial parts of the game. Iwas there as my brothers carer but am 67 myself this year and have a back problem. In the day i was one of the lads, home and away never sat down but now i can see it from other, less fortunate folks point of view. There must be a way of settling this problem,without the nastiness that occurred on sunday. We’re all Hammers after all. COYI X
I’m pro having areas where fans can stand without penalty, even though I am an old git sitter. Fortunately I’m at the front of the Upper East near (the South End), so any standers are well below me.
The standers are the ones who create the atmosphere. But I’m v confused; I tried to find out if standing is legal or not, and it is very far from clear.
Our situation is massively complicated further by the fact we don’t own the stadium. I don’t think the owners want it, so this leaves the Board only able to try and appeal for it. From what I can understand, it would cost WHU several thousand seats if there was standing. I suspect Brady doesn’t care for standers + that Gold does, but only in principle if it does not affect fans who want to sit…..
In the interim, it is going to get nasty quite quickly….Probably, with video surveillance, the sanders cards are already marked, and with 50k on the waiting list, there will be no shortage of fans wanting to take their place….
I just hope we don’t finish up with a library….